I believe as consumers we are moving rapidly towards the concept of being post-digital. The state where we expect everything to happen seamlessly online. The point where the thought of being inconvenienced by having to move to an offline process gives us nightmares. I do not believe that every organisation trying to push a post-digital agenda is necessarily doing it correctly.
Sounds pretty obvious that statement. Not everyone can get it right; but it is the amount of wrong that has me astounded and dumbfounded.
I have picked on the online media sales industry before; and I think it’s about time to pick on them again (sorry guys). To give this article some credibility and to make it a lot more than just a rant about online sales – we need to examine three parts of this problem.
- traditional magazine ad sales
- current online ad sales
- post-digital ad sales (for lack of a better term)
Traditional magazine ad sales
We are all pretty familiar with the model. A traditional print publication has a number of different ad sizes and ad constructs that they sell. These range from full-page ads through to “classified” type ads at the back of the mag. Throw into the ring the “advertorial” sales and you have all the inventory you can sell in a traditional publication.
Magazines generally have a flat rate at which these various spots are sold for. In other words a full-page will set you back a specific amount for a one-off publication in a monthly mag.
The sales person will come and show you all the demographic information about their readers; convincing you that they are definitely the market to which you need to position your product or company. They then go on to show you the persona of their typical reader and again parrot off a sales speech that makes it sound like the worst decision in the world is not giving them money for an ad.
Couple to that their circulation numbers and the huge investment number for that one-off advert publication instantly gets cut into a minuscule amount per potential view of your ad.
Excellent; makes sense! Sign me up..!!
Current online ad sales
Traditional magazine sales have realised that they are not able to sell as many magazines of late. Their circulation numbers have dropped and so they are forced to look at where else they can top up their revenues.
Many have shifted to including banner ads on their websites as “added value”. The sales person has a new tool in their armory to sell more ad space. They now have shiny new banners that can buzz, whiz, flash and attract would-be customers attention.
So out comes the sales pitches; refreshed with the “added value” of online. “Let’s take your business digital” says the sales person as they proceed to regale you with stats of viewership and social share of voice; not to mention the already proven demographic targeting.
Those publications that have seen more value from online; forgo the “added value” discussion and start selling you online space based on how long the banner will be served. They bundle it with newsletters and sell you the “integrated package” where your ad will be seen online; in the weekly newsletter as well as in the magazine itself.
The triple threat; what could be better..?!
Post-digital ad sales
Well…. Quite a lot could be better actually. Fundamentally the model is flawed. It’s like being kinda; sorta half pregnant. The premise of digital is that the ads are extremely flexible and highly data driven. Their entire structure is predicated on the fact that you can measure the interaction on the ad and then make the advert better based on its relative performance.
Let’s break that down slightly further.
Digital ad sales.
Media owners; put your money where your mouth is. Stop selling ads based on the potential number of views that it could get based on the shaky stats that are shown in sales meetings. Change your costing model to cost per click. Prove to your clients that their ads will return a positive return on investment.
Digital Advice / Consulting
Change your business model. The mindset of the sales person and ultimately the media owner needs to change. You are not simply selling space. If that were your job; it could be highly automated with a self-provisioning ads sales website. You are a consultant. Your job is to get your client a return on investment based on the performance of their advert in or on your platform.
That means that you need to tell them how to run their creative. How to place their ads; what their calls to action should be and most importantly; what should happen once a potential customer has clicked on a banner and expressed interest.
That last point is the crux of the issue. Show your client that you are on their team. Help them not with getting eyeballs on their ads. That’s table stakes; tickets through the gate. If you are not doing that; then you need another job.
As a media owner or a media sales person; you need to close the loop. Focus on optimsing the conversions. That is ultimately what your client is interested in. If that means that you need to own the conversion page on your own website; then do so. But just do something.
If you don’t; your client is not going to see a return from digital media and is going to pull their spending from there as well.
I cannot stress this enough; be the conversion optimisation consultant for your client; not just the guy who gives them space on a website or in a magazine!